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WWYD - walk away or stay?

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  • WWYD - walk away or stay?

    I have boarded my horse (and my munchkin in training) at a barn #1 right by my house. However, I have been riding for a little over 2 years now at a barn, barn #2, not too far away from my house that I got involved with in college. The college team has since left that barn, but I stayed as it is right near my house. There is a TB (who is a lesson horse also) that I have ridden for almost a year and a half up there, but due to the lessons I always feel like we make progress only to go back to where he was. (No, taking him out of the program is not an option). And, there is also an arab pony that a friend of mine owns and is boarded at barn #2. At barn #1, none of the horses are competitive at all as most are retired and it is more of a backyard family barn.

    Now here's the dilema: I have never felt very welcome at barn #2. The people are nice but it has never felt like home per say. I have put in many MANY hours of work at both barns, and at barn #1 I always get thanked for my work and feel like one of the barn crew. At barn #2, I have always gotten the feeling that I am expected to do more than I can possibly find time for.

    Tonight, I rode the Tb at #2 and the barn owner pretty much looked down on me for only doing 3 stalls and riding him (Mind you, I have done a lot of work at this barn). It has been like this for a while and I am seeing a side of her that I do not like. (The bad side of showing is starting to show itself in her and I don't want to be a part of that.) Simple solution would be to walk away from the TB and the barn all together. But, the arab that is up there could be a great little horse and I do not want to give her up and moving her is not a possibility due to financial reasons of the owner. Barn #1 with my horse and the train-ee is always there for me, but the caliber of horses is not there. (And train-ee goes back in 2 weeks)

    So.... wwyd? I am stuck in which way to turn. And, I don't wanna burn any bridges because everyone knows how that comes back to bite you in the horse world....
    Who say's your best friend has to be human?

  • #2
    I'm a little confused. Are you trading cleaning stalls for lessons as barn #2? If not, I don't see what's up the BO's butt about you only cleaning three stalls.

    What's with the TB? He's a lesson horse you say, so do you just take lessons on him or do you clean stalls so you can hop on him to fiddle fart around? I'm just a bit confused by your wording lol
    Via SillyHorse: "Honey, if you paid that much for a 'clinic', you are the gold plated sucker."
    The self-proclaimed old-thread-reader.


    • Original Poster

      Sorry- Should have been more clear. I pay full price for lessons and take 1 a week. I also work off another ride each week, and it is not a definite work load, but I put in at least 4 hours of work to flat the horse for a half hour each week. He is a little kids basic w/t/c lesson horse as well, but he will step it up and jump courses with a better rider.
      Who say's your best friend has to be human?


      • #4
        I think much might possibly be solved by sitting down and talking to the BO at barn #2. Communication communication communication There seems to be a discrepancy between her expectations and the services you're providing, so this needs to be clarified. You need to express what you are capable of and why, and the BO needs to lay out her expectations with you. In such a manner perhaps the two of you can come to a sort of compromise and agreement re: the TB. And/or maybe you can board your own horse at barn #2 if you can come to good terms with the BO there.

        Can you move the arab to barn #1 if you pay the difference in board? Or can you lease a different horse and board it at barn #1? How capable is your own horse of meeting your goals? If he's perfectly capable and you don't wish to move, I would make the best of it and school him there if barn #2 just won't work out. If you own a trailer or have a friend who does, you can haul out to schooling shows, schooling sessions, and lessons.

        Otherwise, you might have to find barn #3 that is more suitable to your needs and wants.
        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


        • #5
          What naturalequus said. Talk with BO. Communication makes things so much easier.

          If BO and you can't come to an agreement, it might be best to just let barn #2 go. As long as the horses are taken care of, it won't matter if they are basic w/t/c horses for the rest of their life.

          Hope it works out for you!
          Via SillyHorse: "Honey, if you paid that much for a 'clinic', you are the gold plated sucker."
          The self-proclaimed old-thread-reader.


          • Original Poster

            naturalequus- my horse is no longer rideable due to tumors in her nose, and that is why I am riding other horses. I still trail ride with my girl but nothing more than a walk.

            eventer- I have talked to the BO about it and she does not avoid the subject and allows me to ride the TB, but it is not a very welcoming feeling that I get from her.
            Who say's your best friend has to be human?


            • #7
              Is it actual hostility or is she stand-offish?

              I once worked at a Morgan barn and one of the trainers/managers/whatever, can't remember, was very stand-offish. She would alway reply in short answers and she always looked very serious, but she wasn't trying to be mean. That's just how she was.

              If she's being hostile, I would walk away. There's enough wrong with the world today that you don't need to deal with a hostile barn owner during your horse time.

              If she's just stand offish, either learn to take it with a grain of salt or walk away.

              I remember one time, a friend and I were out driving and this lady cut out in front of my friend. I glanced at the driver and to me, it looked like hte woman was apaologetic and surprised. My friend however went, "Did you see that glare she sent me? That rude b****!."

              Have you directly addressed the owner that you don't feel welcome? Maybe she's doing her best and it's just not as clear a message as you are used to?

              Ultimately, it's up to you though. Are the TB and Arab worth dealing with the owner?
              Via SillyHorse: "Honey, if you paid that much for a 'clinic', you are the gold plated sucker."
              The self-proclaimed old-thread-reader.


              • #8
                And, there is also an arab pony that a friend of mine owns and is boarded at barn #2
                Talk to your friend & see what you can do with the pony & let the TB go as it seems to be a source of discontent - look for another ride somewhere else: working 4 hours for a 30min flatting ride is absurd

                You'll still be around Barn #2 so once you're off the TB, trainer may notice that having you on him was actually a good thing & ask you to ride him again (or he may go just fine with his other lesson riders ...)

                Also follow up with your project boy - maybe you can continue to ride him wherever he's going next

                Sorry to hear about your mare - hope she feels OK!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sschuessler View Post
                  naturalequus- my horse is no longer rideable due to tumors in her nose, and that is why I am riding other horses. I still trail ride with my girl but nothing more than a walk.
                  Sorry to hear about your girl On the bright side, at least you still get to enjoy her, even if not at her former capacity.

                  I still think communication is key because there still does sound like there are discrepancies in expectations from both sides. At the very least, as hard as it is, sounds like you do need to directly ask her if something is wrong because of the feeling you get from her. Otherwise, you might have to just ignore her behaviour and carry on (but without any discussion you then run the risk of it blowing up in your face one day, at which time you'll be in an even worse-off position) or withdraw and give up the TB to focus on the Arab.

                  Otherwise I think you're stuck with giving up the barn and picking up another project horse (or somehow arranging to continue with the current one who's finishing up) or finding a horse to lease.

                  Good luck either way OP, hope it all works out for you regardless
                  ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                  ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                  • #10
                    Maybe it's time to introduce a barn #3 into the mix as it doesn't sounds like either barn is a good fit for your imho. A barn that is friendly AND has decent horses shouldn't be too big of a challenge even though it might be slightly farther from your house.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks everyone-- I did talk to the BO of barn #2 and she doesn't feel I am doing enough to ride the TB outside of lessons...I disagree. Am I really out of line for thinking that 4-4 hours of work for a half hour flatting a horse just to keep him ready for other people's lessons (as well as my own) ,that usually turns into a full schooling each time, is enough?

                      As for barn 31....My mare is probably never leaving the barn she is at-- it is "home" for her and she stresses way too much about the slightest change to move her. So, I guess that barn will always be there for me to fall back on but nothing out of the ordinary in the way of horses there besides trail horses.
                      Who say's your best friend has to be human?


                      • #12
                        I personally don't think you're out of line for thinking that 4 hours of work = a half hour of flatting. In fact, I think you're being shorted. Figure out the average wage for a barn worker in your area and multiply that by four - how does that number stack up against a half hour of flatting that horse (ie, base it against a half-hour lesson on that horse, which would be MORE, imo, than what it would cost to simply flat outside a lesson)?

                        That said, it's not about what you or I or anyone else thinks, really, if the BO is inflexible. Ask her what she would feel would be appropriate, negotiate and compromise, and see if you can't come to some sort of agreement. Then you have to decide if that agreement is worth your effort or not.

                        My advice would still be the same - carry on with the Arab and keep your mare where she's at, or keep your mare where she's at and find another barn from which to lease or ride out of.
                        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                        • #13
                          How much work is getting done in those 4 hours (or how much work does the BO expect to be done)? Does the BO usually charge for pick-up/extra rides, and if so, how much? I would talk with the BO about what they're expectations are. Some barns that pay $8-10/hour, but you're expected to finish a certain amount of work within a certain timeframe. I've heard of some that pay $2-3 for each stall cleaned. An extra ride could run $10 at one barn, or $25 at another.

                          In less then 45 minutes I can pick stalls, top water, turn horses in, prep & distribute grain, and give hay for 15 horses. It takes my friend almost 2 hours just to clean the stalls & fill the water at a 4 horse barn. If I made $10/hour I wouldn't even be able to pay a $20 ring fee that most barns in my area charge.

                          If a BO had 20 stalls, and you were cleaning 3 stalls a day, for 4 days a week, they might find it frustrating that only 12 out of 140 stall cleanings were being done over the course of a week if they're looking at the amount of time it takes to get a small percentage of the work done.


                          • #14
                            Personally, I think you're being taken advantage of by the BO. No way should 4 hours of barn work equate to 30 minutes of flatting a horse. Many BOs would be happy to have someone flat their horse for free! I pay someone $20 a day to clean five stalls and refill water buckets, which usually takes him 1 hour per day to do. So, does flatting a horse for 30 minutes equal to $40 to $80 in compensation? I don't think so.


                            • Original Poster

                              In the work time, I usually do 10 of the 17 stalls (another person does the other ones), fill buckets, and clean the mini's pen out (2 minis that have stall-keeping habits worse than a goat). If the TB's lesson tack is dirty, I usually will clean it up even though I don't use it.... I just have a huge problem with dirty bridles used on horses. The stalls are expected to be immaculate and they are 14x14 stalls with horses in the stall for at least half the day... so it takes a while to get them done. And, when we get a hay delivery and I am there I pitch in and help unload it. Don't think I am expected to help, but I have helped with hay at various barns since I could lift a hay bale so I do.
                              Who say's your best friend has to be human?


                              • #16
                                Another option is to find a job outside of the barn that will allow you to come in and take lessons. If you can find a better gig and more $$ outside of the barn then you can do that and use the money you are making on lessons.


                                • #17
                                  The issue is probably your speed. From the BO's perspective, 10 stalls and a pen in 4 hours is way too slow. 10 stalls should take a max hour and a half. So BO probably feels like you promise 4 hours of work, but give her half that, especially since there is no time clock to punch in a barn.

                                  Better to pay for ride time or trade task-based "I will clean all the stalls once a week in exchange for a ride".

                                  If you only did 3 stalls this week, you should not have ridden the horse. There is no way that was 4 hours of work.

                                  That said, as a BO I expect these exchanges to be highly inefficient, so I probably wouldn't care. I can always do the work three times as fast -- at least the horses get ridden. If BO has others to ride the horse she may see him as more of a commodity.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Ok... maybe wasn't very clear-- these stalls do take that long to do. They are bedded extremely deep ( think 4-5 bags of shavings per stall) and have to be done to perfection. I am a fast cleaner, and it does take quite some time to get them all done. I do not stop the entire time I am working but get everything done in 4 hours. Yes, sometimes it is less time if horses were out or something, but usually it is not. This week I did my stalls earlier in the week and did not ride that day. I did 3 more the day I rode just because they had not been done yet. I was not obligated to do them.
                                    idaho- I do work 40+ hours to pay for my lesson each week- its just not very productive to only get in 1 ride a week so I work off another one.
                                    Who say's your best friend has to be human?


                                    • #19
                                      Talk to your BO and ask her what the problem is, then, and what kind of arrangement she would prefer. See what she says, listen and come up with a solution together so neither of you feels taken advantage of.

                                      You said that your arrangement was sort of unspoken -- that is probably your biggest problem. Important to lay these things out clearly, then abide by them strictly for them to work.